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NJ Alimony Statute Modified

Sep 15, 2014 | Written by: Diana N. Fredericks, Esq. |

On September 11, 2014, Governor Christie signed a bill that modifies the alimony statute in New Jersey.  It is important to recognize the effect this new statute may have on your case.  Some of the most significant changes are:

The term permanent alimony has been removed from the statute and has been replaced with Open Durational Alimony as follows:

“For any marriage or civil union less than 20 years in duration, the total duration of alimony shall not, except in exceptional circumstances, exceed the length of the marriage or civil union. Determination of the length and amount of alimony shall be made by the court pursuant to consideration of all of the statutory factors set forth in subsection b. of this section. In addition to those factors, the court shall also consider the practical impact of the parties’ need for separate residences and the attendant increase in living expenses on the ability of both parties to maintain a standard of living reasonably comparable to the standard of living established in the marriage or civil union, to which both parties are entitled, with neither party having a greater entitlement thereto.”

Exceptional circumstances that may require an adjustment to the duration of alimony include:

(1)  The ages of the parties at the time of the marriage or civil union and at the time of the alimony award;

(2)  The degree and duration of the dependency of one party on the other party during the marriage or civil union;

(3)  Whether a spouse or partner has a chronic illness or unusual health circumstance;

(4)  Whether a spouse or partner has given up a career or a career opportunity or otherwise supported the career of the other spouse or partner;

(5)  Whether a spouse or partner has received a disproportionate share of the marital estate;

(6)  The impact of the marriage or civil union on either party’s ability to become self-supporting, including but not limited to either party’s responsibility as primary caretaker of a child;

(7)  Tax considerations of either party;

(8)  Any other factors or circumstances that the court deems equitable, relevant and material.

The law applies to awards involved in divorces that are in process, but not yet finalized, and future divorces that have yet to commence; it is not retroactive.  However there are also significant changes as to what constitutes changed circumstances to modify alimony based upon retirement, unemployment or cohabitation.

The Family Law Department at Gebhardt & Kiefer has been monitoring the pending legislation and we are ready to advocate for our clients.  We advise you to contact one of our experienced family law attorneys at 908-735-5161 today to discuss how these changes may impact you.  We handle family law and support-related issues throughout New Jersey.